Getting Ready For Back To School

Getting Ready For Back To School

July is drawing to a close and, in many places, that means it’s time to get ready to start school again come the beginning of August. A handful of places still wait until after Labor Day in September but most places kick off in August. Which means, of course, that there isn’t much time left to get all of the school supplies on your child’s back to school list provided by his teacher. And, beyond that, every parent with school-age children knows that there are plenty of things the child will need that aren’t mentioned on the list — especially for those “children” who are getting ready to head off to university.

For now, we’ll stick with primary and secondary school children, though. Stay tuned for our college student edition which will be coming very soon.

1) TabletsTablet computers are very popular with kids these days as they allow for a large number of educational-yet-fun apps to be installed and can be used as a day planner and communication device. Put them in a good case and these babies can last a while!

2) Laptops – Most families are loathe to buy multiple desktop computer units since they’re fairly expensive and can be difficult to carry around. However, for many high school students, access to a computer is a necessity to complete assignments. To ensure that there’s no fighting over who’s turn it is on the computer, consider giving your high school aged child a laptop.

3) Back-up storage facilities – I’m not talking on an enterprise or state level here but it would be wise to have a few external disk drives around to store regular backups of the computer’s file system and files in case something happens to the computer. In addition, a few thumb USB sticks can make carrying papers back and forth for study sessions a breeze!

4) Printers – If your child already has a computer coming their way, then chances are that they will need a printer they can use to print out their papers and assignments.

5) Watch – Though not as common as they used to be in this smartphone era, a good watch can not only help keep track of the time but also help know when it’s time for friends to go home.

6) Digital Voice Recorder – Though it’s been proven that writing something down makes it easier to remember, there are still plenty of teachers who either have such a deed droning in their tone that passing out is less of an option and more of a “how to deal with this class or who speak so quickly and cover so much ground that the only way to ensure you don’t miss a word is to invest in a digital voice recorder.

What are some other items that we have in stock and you think would be good for kids heading back to school? Let us know in the comments below!

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

It’s been another busy week in the world of technology this week with the central focus being, by and largely, on security and privacy. Though there are new gadgets coming out — LG, Lenovo, Samsung, and Apple have all had some things to hint at for release later in the year — the main stories have focused on security, privacy, and how to keep information out of the hands of those who would misuse it.

Court cases have been a second major topic with Apple revealing the terms of its settlement in the eBook price fixing case and the American Bar Association coming out against filing lawsuits first when it comes to file sharing. Snowden and the IRS have also been in the news, notably with regards to destruction of evidence.

All of these stories and more were featured in our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the high points for you below!

That’s all for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and see you again next week.

Apple and the eBook Price Fixing Case

Apple and the eBook Price Fixing Case

As most eBook readers are no doubt aware, there has been a major court case going through the works concerning Apple and the Big Five, Amazon, and eBook pricing. Without getting into the gory details of the case, it turns out that Apple and the Big Five were found to have colluded to artificially inflate the price of eBooks and are responsible for returning some portion of their ill-gotten gains to the consumers they fleeced. The Big Five (Hatchet Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan) have all agreed to pay $166 million with Apple agreeing, today, to pay $450 million. This money will go back to consumers who were overcharged for eBooks due to price fixing.

This court ruling also further breaks the near-monopoly control over book publishing that the Big Five have held for many decades. No longer able to dictate the prices of eBooks, the Big Five may soon find themselves unable to dictate the price of paperbacks, hard covers, or collectible books. Thus far, the smaller independent presses have let the Big Five set the prices but seeing that they may no longer be ruling the roost, it might not be long before smaller presses, independent presses, and independent writers decide to work together to get more books in front of more readers at prices that are affordable.

So, if you’ve been a big eBook purchaser over the past few years — and I know many of you have been — you might soon be getting some of your money back! And that is always a good thing.

Wednesday Recipes: Potato, Potahtoe

Wednesday Recipes: Potato, Potahtoe

Whenever someone says they’re a meat and potatoes kind of person, you know that they prefer simple meals with solid staples and nothing too fancy or time-consuming to make. For meat, there’s many ways to prepare it but for a meat and potatoes meal, simpler is better. However, even the most down-to-Earth meat and potatoes person can’t complain if the potatoes are a bit fancier than normal which is why we’ve got a couple of simple but different potato dishes for you to try this week!

Microwave Baked Potato

1 large russet potato
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
3 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
3 teaspoons sour cream

Scrub the potato, and prick several time with the tines of a fork. Place on a plate. Cook on full power in the microwave for 5 minutes. Turn over, and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. When the potato is soft, remove from the microwave, and cut in half lengthwise. Season with salt and pepper, and mash up the inside a little using a fork. Top the open sides with butter and 2 tablespoons of cheese. Return to the microwave, and cook for about 1 minute to melt the cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sour cream, and serve.

Roasted New Red Potatoes

3 pounds small red new potatoes, halved
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Arrange, cut side down, on a large lipped cookie sheet or jellyroll pan. Roast until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes (check after 20 minutes). Transfer to a serving dish.

ABA Speaks Out Against File Sharing Suits

ABA Speaks Out Against File Sharing Suits

This one comes as a bit of a surprise given the current legal climate and the MPAA and RIAA’s propensity for blaming their failing business models on “evil digital pirates” instead of “overpriced goods” and “outdated business models.” According to ArsTechnica, the American Bar Association has come out against filing suits against file-sharing parties.

Now, the ABA isn’t coming out counseling caution in filing suit against sharers for any reasons like “fair use” or “stop gap measure to try to maintain an antiquated business model” or anything like that. Instead, they’re afraid of the PR backlash that tends to follow in the wake when a big, rich corporation sues the pants off a grandmother in Iowa. And, in recent years, the two Hollywood lobby groups have backed off active suits in favor of “educational” measures that largely consist of accusing anyone who purchases their goods or services of being a potential ne’er-do-well.

The idea that selling through iTunes, YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video might be a great way to reach new audiences is slowly beginning to register though there will be token complaints given that going to a pure-digital non-DRM’d format will finally put an end to the Betamax/VHS/DVD/Blu-Ray upgrade spiral for movies and the 8-track/16-track/CD/MP3 format spiral for music, meaning that once a person has bought the song, they won’t need to buy it again in a few years in a new format.

Still, the acknowledgement that a rush to file suit instead of trying to work with people and meet their needs or desires on the part of the ABA and its clients is a breath of fresh air in the increasingly litigious tech sector.

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

Another Friday brings us to the end of another week in the world of technology. This week has been a busy one filled with the wake of the Aereo ruling from last week and the White House turning down the suggestion of the US Patent Office on a new lead following the outcry of the tech community. This week has also been a big week for wearables from Apple and Samsung, patent discussions, online law, computer crime talk, and much, much more.

All of these stories and more were covered on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter then we’ll recap the highlights for you below!

That’s it for this week, everyone. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you again next week!

Gravity Satellites Predicting Floods

Gravity Satellites Predicting Floods

Quick Reminder: will be present at the Live Nation concert at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey (Exit 116 on the Garden State Parkway). Swing by our tent for the chance to join in giveaways, sweepstakes, meet-and-greets, and to charge up your gadgets for free!

This comes from the “oh, wow, that’s kind of awesome” department: Gravity satellites could provide warning months ahead of floods.

Floods have been a terrifying part of local weather patterns in almost every part of the world since time immemorial. When there are heavy rainstorms or a lot of snow build-up during the winter, it’s easy to guess that rivers and streams might flood in the local region. However, in regions further removed, predicting a flood or where it might hit has not always been so easy. And, sometimes, floods occur even when there doesn’t seem to be a discernible reason for them. Therefore, predicting them and preparing for them prior to the satellite era was a bit of a hit-or-miss, last-minute thing that involved lots of strong men with shovels and sandbags praying that they’d be able to reinforce their barricades enough.

Back in 2002, NASA and the German Aerospace Center launched the GRACE satellites whose goal is to measure gravity changes on the Earth’s surface. However, they have also been extremely useful in showing ground-water conditions such as the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and the depletion of ground-water and aquifers in California. Changes in water density and flow can impact precise gravitational measurements which is what GRACE is looking for. GRACE can also see more than just the water-behavior indicators that hydrologists rely on in the wake of rainstorms to determine how a coming storm might impact the area in terms of ground-water absorption, run-off, likely areas of drainage, etc. This ability to get a more birds-eye, high-level perspective of everything that’s going on in a region over a longer period of time gives hydrologists and meteorologists more tools to work with and can provide more advanced warning to a flood-potential region, allowing the local government a chance to get out in advance of the flood and put more effective barriers in place to ensure that loss of life and property damage is kept to a minimum.

That said, there are limitations to what GRACE can predict. GRACE works best for floods that are caused by changes in the watershed and ground conditions and not severe sudden weather patterns — such as the Indus River flooding that was caused by torrential monsoon rains instead of changes in the watershed.

Technology like this has definitely had a profound impact on humanity over the past fifty years. Instant global communications, the miniaturization of computing devices from the size of ENIAC to today’s smartphones, better satellite and imaging technology, and many other things both large-scale and small have made it possible for people to live longer, fuller, safer lives. Generally here at BuyDig, we focus our attention on consumer-level technology but we should never forget the high-level contributions made by scientists and governmental-level technology to improving our day-to-day lives. In today’s world, it’s easy to install an app on your smartphone or tablet that works like CodeRed does to warn you if you’re in a region that is about to experience a flood, tornado, severe thunderstorm, high winds, or other hazardous conditions. There are apps that can even warn you if you’re about to travel to or through a region under extreme weather warnings. Though currently coverage on apps like these is somewhat limited and nowhere near completely global in scope, with access to satellites like the GRACE satellites, perhaps one day it will be completely pedestrian for your smart-gizmo to let you know to expect a flood in Third Street at 5:43 pm.

Wednesday Recipes: Summer Cocktail Edition

Wednesday Recipes: Summer Cocktail Edition

Generally we feature recipes here that can be served to the whole family. However, as summer heats up and the temperatures climb, many people out there are looking for a way to unwind and cool off after a day of working out in the garden under the sweltering sun. So, to help you, we’ve got a couple of great cocktail recipes for you to try that will keep you cool and relaxed — so long as you’re 21 or older and don’t attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of alcohol.

Mint Julep

5 fresh mint leaves, plus a few mint sprigs, for garnish
1 teaspoon sugar
Shaved ice
2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
Lemon slice, for garnish, optional
Orange slice, for garnish, optional
Maraschino cherry, for garnish, optional

Place mint leaves, sugar and a splash of water into a silver julep cup or a 12-ounce Tom Collins glass. Muddle the mint, sugar, and water together with the tip of the handle of a wooden spoon. Fill the glass with shaved ice, add the bourbon, and stir until combined. Garnish with a lemon or orange slice, a cherry, and a few sprigs of fresh mint.

Frozen Watermelon Margarita

1 1/2 cups cubed watermelon (Smith County if you can get it)
1 cup tequlia
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange liqueur
1 to 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspon salt
3 cups ice

Puree 1 1/2 cups cubed watermelon, 1 cup tequila, 1/2 cup each lime juice and orange liqueur, 1 to 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3 cups ice in a blender. Divide among glasses; garnish with lime and watermelon.

Waiting for the Next Seasons

Waiting for the Next Seasons

It’s been over a month since most of the season finales for the top television shows took place and, if you’re anything like me, you’re looking for something to fill the void until September rolls around the season premieres show up. While I’ve been doing plenty of reading — eBooks and regular books — and writing, there are still times when I get bored and want to watch television but don’t want to get into something too new for fear that I’ll hit the end of its last season and then have yet another “what’s going to happen” cloud hanging over my head and taking up spare processor cycles in my brain.

The main thing I’m doing is watching shows I didn’t get a chance to see on Netflix. So far, I’m most of the way through Breaking Bad and I’ve been watching some of the classic Doctor Who seasons. I also have Lost queued to go as it came out while I was living overseas and I didn’t get to see what all of the hype was about. And, even though I’ve seen it all the way through multiple times, there’s X-Files. House of Cards is on there and I’m wondering if I could find Law and Order or Criminal Minds. If you’ve got a smart TV, getting a Netflix account may wind up saving you cash in the long run as you can quite easily live without cable or satellite television so long as you have Netflix. And, it can give you a wide range of movies and shows to watch if, like many others, you lost interest in the World Cup after the US was eliminated.

The other thing I’m doing is working on my outdoor cooking skills. Barbeque isn’t so much a food choice as a religion where I grew up so I’ve been experimenting with different sauces, marinades, garnishes, techniques, and cuts of meat. I’ve found a few that have come out really well and a few that had the local dogs digging the hole for it before I even opened the grill. Not only is grilling or barbequing fun and easy to clean up (especially with a high pressure washer), it’s also a lot healthier than other ways of cooking meat.

What about you? What are some things you’re taking the time to do this summer when there aren’t quite so many pressing things on your schedule? Let us know in the comments below!

Wrapping Up the Week

Wrapping Up the Week

It’s been another busy and interesting week in the tech world over the past seven days. Gaming stories were big in the latter part of the week as a Japanese grandmother discovered she owned a vertiable cache of vintage arcade games and then the eSports world was rocked by a scandal over male-only tournament matches. Privacy has also been another big theme this week with the EU “right to be forgotten” ruling beginning to show just how bad some of its unintended consequences can be. There were also drone fly-overs of the NSA data storage facility out in Utah in protest of the NSA’s tendency to spy on everyone for no reason other than it can. Ars Technica, a great tech resource site, has also been checking out some privacy-enabled gear and reviewing it.

All of these stories and more were covered on our Twitter feed this week. However, if you’re not following us on Twitter, here are the top stories from this past week!

That’s all for this week. Have a great Independence Day and a safe and fun holiday weekend and we’ll see you again nest week